A relatively quiet month, with four winners added to our tally, but with the turf season now underway, we are all looking forward to a busy season ahead!
OLDER STAYERS TO THE FORE
Ranch Hand had won over hurdles at Exeter in November, but got stuck in the mud at Haydock on his next outing the following month and that prompted a return to the flat. It has proved to be a very good move, as he made a winning reappearance in game style at Chelmsford, making all the running under P J McDonald and showing his customary gutsy attitude to hold off a persistent runner-up.
That was a Fast-Track Qualifier for the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, in which Ranch Hand produced another fine effort to win, his fourth success in his last five starts…but more on that in April’s review!
Cleonte wasn’t at his best last term, but he had finished a promising second in February and duly went one better at Kempton Park under Josh Bryan, winning with a bit to spare. A very talented stayer at his best, having landed the Queen Alexandra at Royal Ascot in 2019, he retains plenty of enthusiasm and ability and hopefully can go on to further success on turf this year.
JOSH TURNS PROFESSIONAL
Cleonte’s win was Josh’s 95th career success and he has now lost his claim and turned professional. We wish him the very best in his ongoing career and are delighted that he will continue to ride out for us in the mornings on a regular basis – Josh is a very strong rider and an excellent horseman, who has forged successful partnerships at home with many potentially tricky horses, including Beat The Bank and Johnny Drama.
Hold Fast had taken advantage of a career-low mark when winning at Kempton Park in February and she followed up in good style at Chelmsford under David Probert, beating the same rival into second. She didn’t have everything go her way at Lingfield Park on her latest outing and remains on a mark off which she can be very competitive.
May Night finished last season in good form and had done well for the winter break and being gelded, so it was very pleasing to see him make a winning seasonal return at Kempton Park. He travelled powerfully before putting the race to bed in great style and looks capable of winning off higher marks this term.
We sent two horses over to Dubai to compete at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night. It was hugely disappointing that Berkshire Rocco was unable to take his place in the Dubai Sheema Classic, having been lame on the morning of the race, but he owes us nothing and his welfare is the paramount concern. Thankfully, it seems it was nothing serious and he should be back out flying the flag for owner Paul Spickett soon. Spanish Mission ran a solid race to be fifth in the Dubai Gold Cup, staying on well over the two-mile trip, but he was not travelling with his usual ease in the earlier stages of the race and perhaps his trip to Saudi Arabia the previous month had taken more out of him than we had anticipated. He too is safely home and seems in great form – we look forward to many more good days with him this term.